Murray Rothbard – The Discipline of Liberty
Posted by Orrin Woodward on September 8, 2010
I am sitting in my hotel suite, overlooking the blue ocean as the sunrises, pondering the meaning of liberty. Yesterday, Laurie and I, plus three of our children (Jeremy lectured me on why he needed to stay home to fulfill his soccer commitments), enjoyed the freedom to hop on an airplane and travel to Hawaii. This is our 10th time to Hawaii in 11 years. We have been blessed to enjoy the liberty to build our own business, to enjoy the fruits of our labors and to share our experiences and knowledge with others to help others prosper. Underlying all of these blessing is our Creator’s blessings and a system of free enterprise that rewards people based upon their individual contributions. Anyone that isn’t hiding in a hole is well aware that our liberties are waning as Big Government attempts to solve issues that it cannot solve and wasn’t created to solve. The more government spends on items that it cannot solve, the less freedom all citizens have.
I am sometimes criticized for mixing faith, politics, and leadership together, but without combined columns of spiritual freedom, economic freedom, and political freedom, our freedom edifice will fall. If any leader allows one of these planks to be attacked and does nothing, the whole edifice of liberty will fall. The blood will be on our hands for not only, not improving, but allowing the rot of our liberty based systems. Are you a leader? Then you have a responsibility to learn why spiritual, economic and political freedoms rise and fall together, because you have enjoyed the fruits of the labor of the many who have led before us. Freedom isn’t free and must be defended with a vigilance against all would be tyrants, even if the tyrant is an out of control democracy. We have met the enemy and the enemy is us. Here is a portion of an introduction by Murray Rothbard from his book Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature, who is fast becoming one of my favorite economists. Rothbard teaches the importance of economists branching out into the fields of politics, leadership, philosophy etc, as all areas tie together to create our endangered liberties. Read the post and ask yourself what role you can play to defend liberty. God Bess, Orrin Woodward
Probably the most common question that has been hurled at me—in some exasperation—over the years is: “Why don’t you stick to economics?” For different reasons, this question has been thrown at me by fellow economists and by political thinkers and activists of many different persuasions: Conservatives, Liberals, and Libertarians who have disagreed with me over political doctrine and are annoyed that an economist should venture “outside of his discipline.”
Among economists, such a question is a sad reflection of the hyper-specialization among intellectuals of the present age. I think it manifestly true that very few of even the most dedicated economic technicians began their interest in economics because they were fascinated by cost curves, indifference classes, and the rest of the paraphernalia of modern economic theory. Almost to a man, they became interested in economics because they were interested in social and political problems and because they realized that the really hard political problems cannot be solved without an understanding of economics. After all, if they were really interested mainly in equations and tangencies on graphs, they would have become professional mathematicians and not have devoted their energies to an economic theory that is, at best, a third-rate application of mathematics. Unfortunately, what usually happens to these people is that as they learn the often imposing structure and apparatus of economic theory, they become so fascinated by the minutiae of technique that they lose sight of the political and social problems that sparked their interest in the first place. This fascination is also reinforced by the economic structure of the economics profession (and all other academic professions) itself: namely, that prestige, rewards, and brownie points are garnered not by pondering the larger problems but by sticking to one’s narrow last and becoming a leading expert on a picayune technical problem.
Among some economists, this syndrome has been carried so far that they scorn any attention to politico-economic problems as a demeaning and unclean impurity, even when such attention is given by economists who have made their mark in the world of specialized technique. And even among those economists who do deal with political problems, any consideration devoted to such larger extra-economic matters as property rights, the nature of government, or the importance of justice is scorned as hopelessly “metaphysical” and beyond the pale.
It is no accident, however, that the economists of this century of the broadest vision and the keenest insight, men such as Ludwig von Mises, Frank H. Knight, and FA. Hayek, came early to the conclusion that mastery of pure economic theory was not enough, and that it was vital to explore related and fundamental problems of philosophy, political theory, and history. In particular, they realized that it was possible and crucially important to construct a broader systematic theory encompassing human action as a whole, in which economics could take its place as a consistent but subsidiary part.
In my own particular case, the major focus of my interest and my writings over the last three decades has been a part of this broader approach—libertarianism—the discipline of liberty. For I have come to believe that libertarianism is indeed a discipline, a “science,” if you will, of its own, even though it has been only barely developed over the generations. Libertarianism is a new and emerging discipline which touches closely on many other areas of the study of human action: economics, philosophy, political theory, history, even—and not least—biology. For all of these provide in varying ways the groundwork, the elaboration, and the application of libertarianism. Some day, perhaps, liberty and “libertarian studies” will be recognized as an independent, though related, part of the academic curriculum.